Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday night contest against Golden State, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Blake, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Warriors: S. Curry, K. Thompson, H. Barnes, D. Lee, F. Ezeli
4:20 It was a long day in Los Angeles, with news of the firing of Mike Brown coming in around 10 a.m., leading to GM Mitch Kupchak’s press conference at 12:30 p.m., and oh yeah, there was a game to play against the Warriors at 7:30 p.m. Bernie Bickerstaff, so long an NBA fixture, stepped in to handle interim duties as the coaching search began behind the scenes. On the floor, the energy – if not the shooting – was expectedly good for the Lakers to start, keyed by Darius Morris dropping the first of two triples after two early fouls on starter Steve Blake. The first Morris three put L.A. up 17-13. Speaking of that energy: when a coach is fired, the players know it’s on them to show what they’re made of.
0:00 Despite only 36 percent shooting, the Lakers took a 23-22 lead out of the period, thanks to a 13-10 edge on the glass (five offensive). Gasol had six, and Morris seven as Kobe Bryant posted four assists. Also notable: Devin Ebanks was inactive after a legal incident from the previous night, and Jodie Meeks grabbed those minutes as Bryant got a rest.
5:05 L.A. opened by hitting only 3 of 12 triples despite a bevy of open looks, but Blake added the fourth to put the Lakers up five. On the ensuing possession, however, he committed his third foul to bring Morris back into the action. Speaking of threes … Bryant then hit his first, a deep one, to make it 41-35. Gasol had been very active on both ends, missing shots but collecting loads of boards (eight in the half).
0:00 A strong close to the quarter produced at most an 11-point lead that was 47-38 at the break. Bryant’s 13 points and five dimes led the way, but it was a collective defensive effort that held GSW to 32.6 percent shooting with eight turnovers was the difference.
8:30 A 5-0 LAL run, Gasol tipping in Bryant’s miss & Kobe converting an and-1 (4 PF’s on Klay Thompson) put LAL up 52-45 after they’d conceded a 7-0 Warriors run to start the quarter. A good reversal in a quarter that’s plagued L.A. to start the season.
0:00 The Lakers bench had perhaps its best stretch of the young campaign to close the third quarter, with triples from Jodie Meeks and MWP (who had been 0 for 10 from the field) pushing the lead all the way to 18. Gasol’s presence helped calm the unit, which spaced the floor well and got clean looks. After three, the lead was 72-55, the defense leading the way as GSW was at just 31.7 percent.
8:24 The strong second half push continued, with Jordan Hill wreaking havoc on the offensive glass (L.A.’s 15th) to help open a 79-60 advantage. The rebounds, overall, were at 52-37, paced by 14 from Pau Gasol.
5:00 Kobe got a standing O coming off with LAL up 93-65, after 27 points 9 boards and 7 assists. He sparked LAL’s energy as he so often does, and was really terrific throughout the evening in a night the players looked to him for leadership. Gasol’s activity was rewarded with a season-high 16 rebounds, he too checking out early to watch the second unit. And they were pleased, as 37 bench points (to 23 for the Warriors) plus a bevy of rebounds (Antawn Jamison had seven and Morris five) helped lead to a blowout 101-77 victory. Meeks had a pretty crossover into a jumper to get Bryant and Howard on their feet cheering, Hill had 14 points with four boards, Morris had 10 points and five dimes with his five boards and Jamison added six points.
Ultimately, a long day in Los Angeles had a happy ending, a blowout victory behind a professional coaching job from a group of assistants unsure of their future. They were led by Bickerstaff, who praised the effort of the players after encouraging that they simply stop worrying and play the game they’d loved their whole lives. It worked on this Friday night. Up next, a Sunday tilt against Sacramento. We’ll see you there.